Sunday, August 26, 2018

August 26, 1926 -- Lake Geneva Estate Set Aside as Nature Preserve

August 26, 1926 – Mrs. Frances Kinsley Hutchinson, the widow of the late Charles L. Hutchinson, a Chicago banker and civic leader, agrees to give Wychwood, the family’s 72-acre estate in Lake Geneva, to the State of Wisconsin as a nature preserve.  The estate dates to in 1901 when the Hutchinson’s began their quest to “preserve the natural beauty of an isolated wilderness of native flowers and plants.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 26, 1926] The estate drew scientists, botanists and horticulturists from all over the country as the couple was “vigorously interested in keeping their estate out of the hands of vandals and yet making it available to the nature loving public.” The late Charles L. Hutchinson had been the president of the Art Institute of Chicago while his wife served as president of the Wild Flower Preservation Society of Illinois, and even before Hutchinson’s death the two had set out to find a means of carrying out the plan to keep the estate as a nature preserve.  The agreement with Wisconsin did not last long.  Charles Hutchinson had also been a member of the Board of Trustees at the University of Chicago, and that connection led his widow to seek an agreement with the university in 1933 to donate Wychwood to the school with a 25-year trust to maintain the property.  Frances died in 1936, and the trust expired in 1957 at which time the U. of C. decided to separate itself from the preserve.  Philip K. Wrigley bought the eastern part of the estate, a tract that bordered on his own property.  George F. Getz, Jr. bought the western portion of the property while the middle section which contained the original Hutchinson home was purchased by Clarence B. Mitchell, who removed the top two floors of the home to create a ranch-style home designed in the architectural style of the late 1950’s. Mitchell kept the home for a little more than a year before it, too, went to the Wrigley family.  The original home of the Hutchinson's is shown in the top photo.  Below that is a photo of its appearance today.

August 26, 1927 – The new Adams Street Bridge opens at 2:00 p.m. when Mayor William Hale Thompson uses a pair of golden scissors to cut a ribbon that stretches across its center.  Nearly a thousand cars join a parade from Grant Park to the bridge as boats stream up the river to watch the ribbon-cutting and listen to speeches from Mayor Thompson, Commissioner of Public Works Wolfe and Deputy Commissioner Edward F. Moore.  The new bridge cost $2,500,000 and had been under construction since 1923.  It sits on piers that go down 95 feet to bedrock and extends 265 across the river.

August 26, 1927 – John Philip Sousa conducts “Stars and Stripes Forever” on a terrace east of the new Buckingham Fountain as the fountain is dedicated before 50,000 Chicagoans.  And “As though responding to the direction of the bandmaster and the magic of his baton, the fountain began to glow with misty blue lights circling each of the three tiers.  A moment later the rush of water started.  For half an hour the lights were played on the 134 jets, through which 5,500 gallons of water were poured each minute, and all the various lighting effects were displayed.”  [Chicago Daily Tribune, August 27, 1927]  Walter B. Smith, a friend of Kate Buckingham, the woman who donated the fountain to the city in memory of her brother, Clarence, makes an address explaining the donation for Buckingham, who is present among the guests in the grandstand.  Michael Igoe, a member of the U. S. House of Representatives and a commissioner of the South Park Board, accepts the $700,000 fountain on behalf of the city.

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